Watch a Local News Channel Recreate a Trial With Puppets

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 8 2012 12:22 PM

Did You See This? The Puppet’s Court

puppetscourt
A still from Day 16 of the Puppet's Court, produced by 19 Action News in Akron, Ohio.

Jimmy Dimora is the former Cuyahoga County Commissioner, a man who was once, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, “one of the highest profile politicians in Cuyahoga County.” That job put him in a position to help out developers and contractors, and, in 2008, his home was raided as part of a major corruption investigation. In 2010 he was arrested by the FBI. He was charged with 36 counts of racketeering and related offenses.

It’s a juicy story, involving bribery, prostitutes, flagrant misbehavior by public officials and private citizens, and all of this has been described in detail on the witness stand. However, because it’s a federal trial, cameras have not been allowed in the courtroom. So what is a hungry local TV news team to do?

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Why not recreate the trial using puppets? While some may object that the result downplays the seriousness of government corruption, it seems to me the perfect solution: The buffoonery of the case’s miscreants is conveyed perfectly by their cartoonish, felt-covered doppelgängers, and the comedy of it all keeps you watching through the less titillating parts. Think Law & Order meets Crank Yankers. They have now covered 16 days of the trial this way.

Here’s hoping news teams across the country are inspired by the creativity of 19 Action News in Ohio. (Via Lowering the Bar.)

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.